Saturday, February 15, 2014

Retire early and follow your dream

Throwing a bowl
There was a really interesting op-ed in Friday's Washington Post by Tara D. Sonenshine, titled Why I'm leaning out. The article discusses the issue of women in their mid-50s and early 60s who, even though they have "strong resumés," have decided to slow down their professional lives, "turning down big jobs for smaller, lower-paid assignments" or retiring early.  Ms Sonenshine asks why "women with extensive job experience and children of a self-sufficient age choose to slow down..."

She concludes that there are three reasons to consider.  First: many professional women are simply tired after years of rushing to meetings, taking chances, and attempting to balance home life and career (the latter is my own observation). Second: women are exhausted from worrying about the "barrage of bad news." She says, "We women of a certain age react to other people's pain and loss as if it were ours, alone, to bear." (I am so glad I'm not alone in getting teary-eyed watching the news!) And third: women want to get more involved in their local communities.

The article does not mention another, I think, compelling reason for both women and men to want to slow down or retire early. That is, the need for self-expression. In our world, few people are able to make a living as musicians, painters, writers, sculptors, dancers. How many people do you know who are frustrated artists, unable to express their creativity?
Carving a yarn bowl on the deck outside the studio

I took early retirement at age 57. I had done well in my career as an economist, and then I switched careers, becoming an editor and doing even better. But I had my pottery "hobby" that was calling me. I dreamed of a day when I could devote myself to it. It's been almost seven years since I retired and I couldn't be happier. It turned out that I was not only good at making pots, but I was also good at building a small business that is operating in the black! I get a lot of positive feedback and validation from my customers and peers, and now have a clientele. In addition, I have time and energy enough to babysit my grandkids, play cards with my mother on Sundays, research our family history, travel, and, yes, make pots. Life is good!

Glynt Pottery Studio

Whether it's making pots or painting, traveling or learning a new language, going fishing or writing that novel... we all have some dream that has to be postponed while we earn enough money to buy the house and put the kids through college. When the opportunity arises to leave the working world behind and devote ourselves to those postponed dreams, is it any wonder we all jump at it?


pat's pottery said...

Love this blog. I have almost the same story, and YES, life is good♥

Judith Frederick said...

Grace is spot on with this one. The professional work force is exhausting along with raising a family. You find your personal needs always being put to the back burner for later and later never comes. Well said Grace.

Graciela Testa Lynt said...

Thanks Pat. You're my role model!

Thanks Judy. It was easy for me because several unexpected events came together at the same time to make my early retirement possible. I'm acutely aware that I would still be at my "day job" otherwise.

Cynthia Smith said...

Very nicely said!

Graciela Testa Lynt said...

Hey Cynthia! How's retirement going?